Etha Kaltapas and group

Two ni-Vanuatu have just returned home from a globally-acclaimed leadership cascade programme designed to give communities the skills and leadership needed to positively change lives.

Etha Kaltapas, recruitment and training coordinator at Youth Challenge Vanuatu, and Jack Ulas who is the organisation’s business coordinator, are amongst around 30 other participants who came from Samoa, Tonga, NZ, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and the Solomon Islands to spend five days at Stevenson’s at Manase, Savai’i, to explore leadership, self-awareness, community and social enterprise.

Called Active Citizens, the British Council programme focus for the Pacific is on social enterprise – generating business for social impact – and empowerment of women and youth.

“Especially with me working with young people, I learned different ways to approach them and take what I learned back to my community and to help them to become change makers,” said Ms Kaltapas.

The experienced group of men, women and youth leaders received certification as Facilitators able to cascade the training modules and methodologies to their own communities to create social change makers, known as Active Citizens. They are also explored how social enterprise can be used as a legitimate business model to advance community needs including youth employment, sustainable tourism, new ways of farming and other interests.

Examples of social actions and social enterprises which have developed in other countries are community gardens to generate peace in conflict zones, schools for rural children, new businesses for women crafts workers and projects which enable young people to embrace dying languages and traditions.

Two master facilitators travelled from the UK and from Peru, to lead the week’s activities which involve conversations, creativity and play, facilitation practice and peer-to-peer learning.

Alatina Ioelu from delivery organisation, Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC) Samoa said: “The diversity and breadth of experience of this group is very exciting because it means that when they go out and share the learnings, we will be able to have Active Citizens across almost every age, gender, and sector from those Pacific Island Nations represented.

“The aim is to share knowledge with a cross section of people working with the communities in the hope that it will translate in to meaningful actions and positive changes.”

Mr Ioelu has participated in the Social Enterprise World Forum in Christchurch, NZ, in September. His colleague Senele Tualaulelei, an experienced trainer who is supporting the two master facilitators, was accredited as an Active Citizens facilitator in Bali, Indonesia, in March.

Their experience reflects the “locally-engaged globally-connected” design of the programme which ensures Active Citizens are able to connect with, and support each other, globally through social media, field trips and international conferences.

Director of the British Council in New Zealand and the Pacific, Ingrid Leary, said Active Citizens was an exciting programme because it traversed cultures, religions and social systems in a way which both honoured and respected culture and valued diversity.

“Social enterprise can sound very business-focused and legalistic, however the reality is that indigenous cultures probably know more about community-orientated business than most western societies,” Ms Leary said.

“Where this programme can add value in the Pacific is giving people the skills to make their community-ventures more financially sustainable and legitimise social enterprise as a mainstream business model, and where this programme can learn is from the indigenous approaches to collective responsibility so that we incorporate these and amplify this through our work globally.”

The programme will be monitored over the coming nine months and success will be measured on the social actions and social enterprises which are developed by Active Citizens trained by the facilitators.

Initial funding has come from the British High Commission in NZ and the British Council is exploring new funding partnerships so as to scale up the programme across the Pacific.

The British Council is the UK’s cultural relations organisation which aims to create friendly knowledge and understanding between people globally.

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